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New Initiative Will Help Kids Learn How To Adjust To Big Life Changes

New Initiative Will Help Kids Learn How To Adjust To Big Life Changes

How To Help Your Child Cope With Big Changes In Their Life
The school playground can be a lonely place for some children, no matter what their age - and this is something Buddy Bench wants to eliminate. A fast-growing initiative, the buddy bench is not a new thing, globally and has been used in American and European schools for a number of years. 
 
However, the Irish approach is a little different. They don't just want kids to use it as a means to signal to others that they have no one to play with. Instead, organisers are using it as a tool to help build resilience and courage in young people.

We all know that transitions are a critical time for children’s growth and development. They provide an opportunity to not just survive change, but to thrive and grow from change.
 
Facing such a challenge, with the right support behind them, children can develop resilience and resources of strength and courage that will stay with them their whole lives.
 
This insight is what has created the collaboration between Kilkenny Local Community Development Committee and Buddy Bench, one of Ireland’s fastest growing social enterprises offering learning resources to children for emotional health and wellbeing.
 
This project, funded by Healthy Ireland, will see 24 Early Years settings in Kilkenny City and County receive the Little Buddies Program for Courage and Resilience.
 
 
Delivered by local Psychotherapist Michelle O’Brien, the program uses storytelling, role-playing and creative activities based on Buddy Bench’s recently launched CarePack Sam Builds a Nest by Jeffrey Gormly:
 
“Maynooth University’s ongoing evaluation of Buddy Bench programs is showing us that what children respond to are creative experiences that help them to integrate our insights into their own story about who they are and how they relate to others,” said Jeffrey.
 
Resilience is about being able to feel your inner strength when you need to go outside your comfort zone and take on the challenges of growing into the world and finding your place,” says Michelle. “Just like the robin in the story has to stand on the edge of the nest, gather his courage, and take off, so that he can fly high and find his own nest!”
 
“Children can feel challenged or overwhelmed by all kinds of experiences. Moving to big school, moving house, a change in family makeup or bereavement, even just strong emotional feelings can make us feel as if we are outside our comfort zone,” says Buddy Bench Co-founder Sam Synnott.
 
“Seeing my daughter go through that is what inspired me to start Buddy Bench, and bring this kind of wisdom and safe support to all children.”
 
 
It’s this kind of safety that is at the heart of the Buddy Bench mission, which has recently been featured in the BBC World Hacks: People Fixing the World series on BBC World Service. BBC Reporter Dougal Shaw says:
 
“I began to understand why it feels like a mission. [Buddy Bench] see it as a way to help Irish society as a whole, a kind of early intervention, to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health.”
 
This mission is what has enabled Buddy Bench to bring their programs to 40,000+ children in over 285 schools and preschools throughout Ireland, a huge impact for a small social enterprise based in Kilkenny.
 
Not only that, but since they were founded in 2016 by Judith Ashton and Sam Synnott, Buddy Bench have been award winners with Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, KBC Better Ireland, Google Adopt-a-Startup and the National Startup Awards.
 
Sam Builds a Nest is illustrated by Ross Dillon of Cartoon Saloon sister company Lighthouse Studios, and comes beautifully packaged in a handprinted box. The CarePack is available at The Hub Thomastown, Designist Dublin, and online at www.buddybench.ie.